Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Neutral Ground @ The Apologetic Front

Check out this video from my friend Mike Felker over at The Apologetic Front on the problem with reasoning on "neutral ground." Ok, some of the pictures leave something to be desired, but they're cute and illustrate the point.

Episode 25: Flesh and Bone

Episode 25 of the Theopologetics Podcast is now available! The Bible teaches the bodily resurrection of Jesus and that of all the dead, contrary to claims made by theological liberals, hyperpreterists and Jehovah's Witnesses that 1 Corinthians 15 speaks of a spiritual, non-physical resurrection.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Study in Baptismal Regeneration: Part 2, Justified by Works

In part 1 of this series, "Faith Alone," we looked at some of part 2 of another blogger's series on baptism, the Gift of the Holy Spirit and salvation. We looked at the claim that Ephesians 2:8-9 teaches only that salvation is apart from works of the Mosaic Law, but not that it is apart from any works of obedience at all. In so doing, we looked at Romans 4 in which Paul demonstrates that Abraham was justified by God—forgiven of sin and counted as being righteous before Him—when he believed that God would do what He said He would do, before any acts of obedience. So, too, are Christians justified by God upon faith apart from works. In this part two of my series, we'll look at James 2, the passage arguably most frequently pointed to as evidence that we are not, in fact, justified by God by faith apart from works, and we'll look at another argument made by my fellow blogger.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Episode 24: Mecca and Medina

Episode 24 of the Theopologetics Podcast is now available! Alan Shlemon from Stand to Reason joins me to discuss Islam and how to reach out to Muslims.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Coming Soon: Interview with Mary Jo Sharp

In episode 23 of my podcast I played a promo for the Confident Christianity podcast, and after that promo I mentioned that perhaps I'd ask its host, Mary Jo Sharp, to let me interview her on the topic of women and apologetics. Well, as it turns out, I didn't have to ask. She listened, and contacted me telling me she'd be happy to do so! So sometime after the new year, look forward to this exciting episode of the Theopologetics Podcast!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Episode 23: Youth of the Nation

Episode 23 of the Theopologetics Podcast is now available! Brett Kunkle, Student Impact Directory at Stand to Reason, joins me to discuss youth ministry and the challenges to faith experienced by youth today.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tweaking Terminology: (Believers') Baptismal Regeneration

The phrase "baptismal regeneration" is commonly and accurately used to refer to the view shared by Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Anglicans, Lutherans, Mormons and the Churches of Christ, which teach that regeneration (spiritual rebirth) occurs at the point of baptism. The phrase does not imply that the water, and not God, is the cause of regeneration, nor that it regenerates without faith, and the phrase is not used to suggest either of those things. It is merely a phrase communicating the belief that regeneration occurs at time of water baptism.

Despite that, a friend of mine, and apparently others, who believe that water baptism is a prerequisite for salvation, object to using the phrase "baptismal regeneration" to refer to their view. After a lengthy dialogue, it seems to me their objection is based on the fact that some groups who teach baptismal regeneration, such as Catholics, believe even infants, unable to have and express faith, are regenerated at baptism. My friend and others, on the other hand, believe only someone old enough to have faith is regenerated at baptism, based on that faith. Therefore, they might argue, using the phrase to apply to their view would inappropriately suggest that they, too, teach that regeneration can happen apart from faith.

I think there's an element of truth in that argument, and so I feel compelled to slightly tweak the phrase when using it to refer to my friend's view specifically, as distinct from the Catholic view. I'm inclined at this point, therefore, to begin referring to this view using the phrase, "Believers' Baptismal Regeneration," thereby communicating that the particular version of baptismal regeneration I'm referring to is one which holds that it's only for believers. This doesn't entirely satisfy my friend, but because it a) clears up any confusion between his view and that of Catholics, while b) using the phrase historically and accurately used to refer to his view, I think it's the best option.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Study in Baptismal Regeneration: Part 1, Faith Alone

In the intro to this series, I explained that I would be going through a series at another blog which intends, in part, to refute the claim that Cornelius and his household were saved before being baptized in water (Acts 10). In this part 1 of my series we're going to look at part of the second entry in that series, focusing on whether or not salvation is through faith alone.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Study in Baptismal Regeneration: Intro

Recently a fellow blogger, who has commented on various of my posts in defense of the claim that water baptism is a prerequisite for salvation, began a series addressing the "Gift of the Holy Spirit." It seems to me, although I could be wrong, that the series is largely designed to attempt to refute my claim that the Bible clearly teaches that Cornelius and his household were saved prior to baptism in water in Acts 10. Whether my perception is accurate or not, that is certainly one conclusion articulated later in the series, which I knew would be the case, thus originally sparking my interest in the series.

Here at my blog, I'm going to go through the posts comprising this series and highlight the errors communicated therein. I will not address the entirety of the series in one post, but will instead begin a series of my own. It likely will not, however, correspond one-to-one with the posts to which I'm responding. In the meantime, I do encourage my readers to briefly check this series out (and then follow along more carefully with me as I respond in my series), because I think doing so will illustrate something important.

Many Christians hold to true biblical doctrine, but do so merely on the basis of tradition and what they've been taught, and without having carefully considered opposing views. That is, they don't critically analyze their beliefs and study Scripture carefully to ensure that their beliefs are true, and they haven't tested other views in light of Scripture. As a result, when a pair of LDS missionaries or Jehovah's Witnesses knock at the door, or when a Roman Catholic or Oneness Pentecostal friend or family member challenges them, such Christians often find themselves overwhelmed by the arguments presented to them in favor of these false views. If we have not carefully examined our faith and the cases made in support of heresies and less serious errors, and tested them all in light of Scripture, we may find ourselves led astray.

Such is the case with the study presented by the blogger. A cursory look may suggest that his arguments are sound. Having not carefully examined the case made by proponents of baptismal regeneration, and for that matter any system of salvation resulting from works of obedience, many Christians will find the blogger's case persuasive. This is why it's so critical that we take our faith and the Bible seriously, and very thoughtfully and carefully conform our world view to Scripture, and prepare ourselves to defend the faith from those who teach a false gospel.

With all that being said, before I begin my series in response, I just want to say that my prayer is that whereas this blogger and I have dialogued in less than loving ways in the past (in my opinion), in this series I will be more respectful in the way I present my argument. In the end, whether or not you come to agree with me, I hope you'll agree I was not disrespectful. Stay tuned for part 1 of my series in which we'll look at the blogger's case against salvation through "faith alone."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Coming Soon: Interview with Alan Shlemon

Also from Stand to Reason, Alan Shlemon will join me to discuss Islam. Alan was born in Baghdad, Iraq, and one of his many areas of expertise is the topic of Islam. I've done little to prepare to evangelize Muslims, so join me as Alan helps motivate and equip us to reach out to our Muslim friends, family and neighbors. Stay tuned!

Coming Soon: Interview with Brett Kunkle

In an upcoming episode of the Theopologetics Podcast it'll be my pleasure to interview Brett Kunkle! Brett is Student Impact Director at Stand to Reason, and he has graciously agreed to talk to us about the youth ministry and the challenges faced by students raised in American secular culture. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Episode 20: Faith Healer

Episode 20 of the Theopologetics Podcast is now available! In this episode I interview Justin Peters and discuss the Word of Faith movement, its origins, its doctrines and its consequences.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Coming Soon: Interview with Justin Peters

I am very pleased to announce that Justin Peters has agreed to let me interview him on the Theopologetics Podcast to discuss the Word of Faith movement. At Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Justin completed a Master of Divinity in biblical languages, and a Master of Theology majoring in the New Testament and minoring in Theology.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Episode 19: Leave the Past Behind

Episode 19 of the Theopologetics Podcast is now available! In this episode I play some calls I made in to the Stand to Reason radio show with Greg Koukl on the topic of preterism, hyperpreterism and skepticism, as a follow up to episodes 17 and 18 in which I interviewed Dee Dee Warren on the same topics.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Other Side of the Mic: Interview with Phil Naessens

Last night I had the pleasure of appearing on my friend Phil Naessens' show, the "What Color is the Sky in Their World?" podcast (formerly known as the "Theology Today" podcast). We talked about blogging and podcasting, apologetics and the importance of humility, preterism and hyperpreterism, church attendance, powerlifting and more. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and hope you will as well. Go here to listen, or subscribe to get every episode as it's released!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Episode 18: It's All Over

Episode 18 of the Theopologetics Podcast is now available! In this episode I interview Dee Dee Warren on the claim made by skeptics of Christianity that Jesus was a false prophet, discussing how a proper biblical understanding of the “end times” turns the claim on its head. The interview spanned nearly 2 hours, so I’ve split it up into two parts. This episode contains the second half of the interview; see episode 17 for the second half.

Episode 17: The End Of The World

Episode 17 of the Theopologetics Podcast is now available! In this episode I interview Dee Dee Warren on the claim made by skeptics of Christianity that Jesus was a false prophet, discussing how a proper biblical understanding of the “end times” turns the claim on its head. The interview spanned nearly 2 hours, so I’ve split it up into two parts. This episode contains the first half of the interview; see episode 18 for the second half.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Episode 16: Soul Meets Body

Episode 16 of the Theopologetics Podcast is now available! In this episode I interview Dr. Glenn Peoples in part 2 of our discussion concerning Christian physicalism, challenging him with a number of biblical passages which seem to contradict his position. This second interview spanned 2 hours, so I've split it up into two parts, this being the second. See episode 15 for the first part.

Episode 15: Soul Man

Episode 15 of the Theopologetics Podcast is now available! In this episode I interview Dr. Glenn Peoples in part 2 of our discussion concerning Christian physicalism, challenging him with a number of biblical passages which seem to contradict his position. This second interview spanned 2 hours, so I've split it up into two parts, this being the first. See episode 16 for the second part.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Coming Soon: Interview with Dee Dee Warren

I cannot express how excited I am to announce that in an upcoming episode of the Theopologetics Podcast I will have the great honor and privilege of interviewing my friend Dee Dee Warren, discussing the topic of preterism. Dee Dee is creator of The Preterist Site, owner of The Preterist Blog at which I'm a guest author, and host of The Preterist Podcast, a recent episode of which I had the pleasure of guest-hosting (which convinced me to start my own podcast, for better or for worse), and is increasingly becoming one of the world's foremost experts on preterism and hyperpreterism--all of which means she can be forgiven for her Apple fanaticism. Stay tuned for this exciting episode!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

He Breathed On Them: The Apostles and the Spirit

Pentecostals and some proponents of baptismal regeneration believe baptism in the Holy Spirit is something different from, above and beyond, the saving, indwelling of the Holy Spirit. In an attempt to demonstrate this, they'll often argue that the Apostles received the Holy Spirit well before Pentecost. Thus, they insist, the baptism in the Holy Spirit which they experienced at Pentecost must be something different from, something more than, the receiving of the Holy Spirit which they already experienced. This is, in fact, not the case, as the Word of God demonstrates.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pearls Before Swine? No Longer Certain...

Ok, so I'm rethinking the stance I've taken when it comes to discussing baptism and soteriology with those who deny that Cornelius' household was saved before water baptism in Acts 10. I may not be properly applying, let alone understanding, Jesus' statements concerning throwing pearls before swine. Certainly there must be a time to shake the dust off one's feet, but I'm not sure I'm doing so in the proper timeframe or manner.

As such, Steve, Aaron, Terry, know that I recognize the possibility that I might be behaving immaturely and unbiblically, and that I will be praying about it. In the meantime, I have a request of you if you're willing.

Here is a summary (relevant to the request I'm about to make) of the argument I laid out in "Saving Cornelius," that Cornelius' household was saved before water baptism:
  1. The text says they "received the Holy Spirit," the same language used in Romans 8 and other places which say the indwelling Holy Spirit seals us in Christ, testifies within us that we are children of God, and promises us resurrection and redemption.
  2. The text says they spoke in tongues and prophesied, gifts which 1 Corinthians 12 says are among many gifts which the indwelling Holy Spirit distributes individually to those who are members of the body of Christ.
I guess what has been implicit in this argument is the denial that, post-Pentecost, God gives people these gifts apart from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and that there are multiple senses in which people receive the Holy Spirit. With that in mind, here is my request of you: Please demonstrate for me that the New Testament demonstrates one of the following post-Pentecost:
  1. The manifestation of tongues or prophecy, gifts given by God, in those who have not "received the Holy Spirit"
  2. Multiple senses in which one "receives the Holy Spirit"
If you can demonstrate either of these, I will be forced to acknowledge the ambiguity a couple of you have claimed is found in Acts 10.

Episode 14: Make It Happen

Episode 14 of the Theopologetics Podcast is now available! In this episode I discuss the sovereignty of God, demonstrating from Scripture that He is not only King over all but that He does what He pleases.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Change of Mind (For Forgiveness of Sins)

In "Be Baptized for the Forgiveness of Sins" I argued that the Greek word εἰς (eis, pronounced "ice") used in Acts 2:38 when Peter says, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for [εἰς] the forgiveness of your sins," is equivocal, meaning "subject to two or more interpretations." While the word is most often used by the New Testament authors to mean "into" or "unto," or "resulting in," I felt I had demonstrated that in at least two occurrences this is not how the word is used, in which occurrences it is used instead to mean "because of" or "on account of."

Although some of my detractors might assume I would uncritically hold firm to this response to the argument for baptismal regeneration from Acts 2:38, the reality is that I've been giving it a lot of thought and further researching the topic, and may be at the beginning of a process of changing my mind. This is not to say that I am beginning to be open to the idea that salvation isn't experienced until water baptism; the whole of Scripture militates against that heresy. Rather, I'm beginning to think that there is a better understanding of Acts 2:38 which is nevertheless fully consistent with the "grace alone through faith" gospel that Jesus and His Apostles preached.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Challenging Cornelius: As I Began to Speak

In "Saving Cornelius" we learned that the Word of God teaches that Cornelius' household was saved, indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God, sealing them as children of God, promising them redemption and resurrection, all before their baptism in water. I have spoken since with a friend and with a visitor to this blog, both of whom have insisted Cornelius' household was not saved before their baptism in water, and I've sincerely sought an explanation for that insistence. I am still awaiting an exegetical answer, but in the meantime, I want to share one argument I've witnessed put forth in support of the view that Cornelius was not, in fact, saved before being baptized in water (not put forward by the friend and visitor of whom I speak).

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Exegetical Eschatology: Do Not Seal Up

In previous articles in this series I've concentrated on many of the presumptions we read into texts dealing with the end times. I demonstrated that we are not justified in assuming that the thousand years of Revelation must refer to precisely 1,000 years and that the reign of Christ during that time would be physical on earth. I demonstrated that we are not justified in assuming that Jesus' disciples ever expected a "first going," so we need to be careful how we understand their questions concerning His future "coming." And I demonstrated that we are not justified in assuming that Jesus' use of lightning imagery in the Olivet Discourse was intended to communicate that the "coming" of which He spoke would be physically visible to the entire world population.

Having dealt with those assumptions, I'd like to start looking at biblical passages which began to make me curious, back when I was a staunch dispensational futurist. The texts we'll be looking at in the next couple of articles in this series are ones which most Christians either gloss over without realizing the weight of the words they're reading, or wave off using "sound byte" explanations without deeply considering the weakness of those explanations. These passages are the so-called "time texts" which we preterists think strongly point to a first century fulfillment of much (but not all) of biblical prophecy, and we're going to begin today by looking at a pair of texts which, considered together, are very powerful.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Episode 13: Unbelievable

Episode 13 of the Theopologetics Podcast is now available! In this episode I interview Justin Brierley, host of the Unbelievable? radio program on Premier Christian Radio UK, discussing how hosting the show has impacted his Christian faith.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Episode 12: Let's Get Physical

Episode 12 of the Theopologetics Podcast is now available! In this episode I interview Glenn Peoples, creator of the Say Hello to My Little Friend blog and podcast, discussing Christian physicalism, the view that man is not comprised of both a physical body and an immaterial soul, but of body only.

In this first of two interviews on the subject, we talk about physicalism in history, the modern evangelical response to physicalism, the biblical basis for physicalism and the metaphysical objection to it. In a future episode I’ll interview Glenn a second time, devoting the entire episode to biblical objections to his position, so email me at theopologetics@hotmail.com if you would like me to include your challenge to physicalism in the second interview.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Episode 11: In Christ Alone

Episode 11 of the Theopologetics Podcast is now available! In this episode I interview Michael Burgos, creator of the Grassroots Apologetics blog, discussing Oneness Pentecostals and how to witness to them.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Coming Soon: Interview with Joel Groat

God continues to amaze me with the guests with which He is blessing me to interview on my podcast. After I interviewed Mike Felker in episode 9 on the Jehovah's Witnesses, I pondered whom I could ask to interview on Mormonism. Having relied upon the ministry of the Institution for Religious Research for years, I figured what the heck, why not contact them for an interview.

To my amazement, Joel Groat, Ministry Director for IRR, has graciously agreed to appear on my show to discuss Mormonism. Joel has been working with Mormons and with people who care about Mormons for over 23 years. His bio reads as follows:

Joel B. Groat has served with IRR since 1987, first as a Research and Counseling Associate, then as Coordinator of Spanish Language Ministries and now as Director of Domestic and International Ministries. A missionary kid and later a missionary himself in Venezuela, Joel has spoken hundreds of times for IRR throughout North, Central, and South America as well as in Spain, Hungary and Madagascar. On his numerous trips to Latin America he has distributed over 160,000 pieces of literature on Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and other apologetics-related issues, and has been the featured guest on various radio and television programs.

Joel earned a Master’s degree (MTS) in New Testament from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary in 1990. He has contributed to and translated many of IRR’s tracts, authored numerous web articles, contributed articles to the Christian Research Journal and has extensive experience speaking to the media and at conferences. He has been an adjunct professor at Cornerstone University and is active in his church’s missions program and youth ministry.

Joel and his wife, Lois, have been married since 1983 and have eight children.

Stay tuned for this exciting upcoming episode of the Theopologetics Podcast!

Discussing Destiny: Many of His Disciples Withdrew

It's been a while since I wrote an article in this series, but recent conversations here at my blog have prompted me to add to it. If you haven't read "Unless the Father Draws Him" and "All the Father Gives Me Will Come" I recommend you do so. As I explained in those posts, Jesus said no man can come to Him unless the Father "draws" Him, using a word that cannot mean simply woos or invites, in a context that cannot mean that all men are "drawn" equally. The Father has chosen some; none of those whom the Father has not chosen will come to the Son; and all those whom He's chosen will come to the Son.

In recent discussions here at my blog, friends and visitors have called me insane. It is unfortunate for me that I wear my heart on my sleeve, as insults like these pierce my heart deeply. I should bear this in mind and be careful about the words I speak, as I often fail to deliver them in gentleness and respect. In other words, I can't judge others for what I do myself.

But as far as the hurt I've experienced is concerned, I look to, among others, one passage in particular that simultaneously helps to comfort me in my pain and further convince me that I've understood Scripture correctly.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Saving Cornelius: Acts 10 and Water Baptism

Despite what the Bible clearly teaches about the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, some proponents of baptismal regeneration (not all of them) reject the truth of Scripture and unjustifiably claim that Cornelius' household was not saved when they received the Holy Spirit in Acts 10, that it was not until they were baptized in water that they were saved. I am convinced, to a certain extent at least, that it will be fruitless to discuss water baptism or virtually any other doctrine with someone who in this way refuses to conform their beliefs to Scripture. It is evident that no matter what the Bible says, these people will instead adhere blindly to their traditions, their "sacred cows," as it were, and one is left to wonder if one should throw their proverbial pearls before swine.

In episode 4 of the Theopologetics Podcast I demonstrated that Cornelius and his household was, in fact, saved by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit prior to being baptized in water. For those who have not listened or are unable to, I will demonstrate this fact here in writing.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Coming Soon: Interview with Glenn Peoples

Normally I share the position espoused by the guests I interview on my show, but in an upcoming episode I will be briefly departing from that trend to interview Dr. Glenn Peoples of the Say Hello to My Little Friend blog and podcast. Glenn recently appeared on the Unbelievable? radio program with Justin Brierley to discuss the topic of Christian physicalism, the belief that human beings are not comprised of both a physical body and an immaterial soul or spirit.

If you, like me, had hoped for a more in-depth examination of this view, look forward to this upcoming episode of the Theopologetics Podcast in which Dr. Peoples will tell us why he thinks the Bible supports his view, and not the one most of us hold. Stay tuned!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

To Terry: Unless the Father Draws Him

This post is for Terry, who graciously agreed to discuss the doctrine of predestination, since it undergirds my position in the debate we've had on baptism. Terry, I would like to bring to your attention chapter 6 of the gospel of John, as a starting point for this discussion.

O LORD What is Man? The "Potential" Human Being

Those who support the freedom of women to choose the evil of elective abortion will often make the absurd claim that a fetus is merely a "potential human." The objection is so obviously false that we often dismiss it without thinking about how to properly answer it. I am currently listening to The Great Abortion Debate, and had to pause it so I could post this after listening to Scott Klusendorf resoundingly refute this nonsense.

The abortion supporter whom Scott was debating attempted to illustrate that a fetus is not a human, but is merely a "potential human," by pointing out that an acorn is not a tree, but is merely a "potential tree." On the surface, this argument seems to have some validity. However, Scott pointed out that while an acorn is not yet a tree, an acorn is an oak! Abortion supporters who claim that a fetus is merely a "potential human" are simply wrong, and the only thing they can demonstrate using the acorn or any other analogy is that a fetus is a potential adult. Yet, just as an acorn may only be a potential tree but nevertheless is an actual oak, likewise may a fetus only be a potential adult but nevertheless is an actual human.

Check out Scott Klusendorf's work at Life Training Institute, and buy the debate on CD at Stand to Reason.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Coming Soon: Interview with Michael Burgos

The topic of Oneness Pentacostalism came up in my interview with Gene Cook, Jr. in episode 10. Michael Burgos, creator of the Grassroots Apologetics blog, has offered to let me interview him on the topic, so we can learn more about Oneness Pentacostals, what they believe, and how to reach out to them. Stay tuned!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Did Your Baptism Please God?

Those who hold to baptismal regeneration will, in my experience, typically acknowledge the following:
  1. When they were baptized in water they pleased God
  2. When they were baptized in water they were subjecting to God's commands
  3. When they were baptized in water they did so having understood the commands of God
  4. One who is indwelt by the Holy Spirit is saved
Keep this in mind as we read God's Word together:

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Episode 10: Baptize Me

Episode 10 of the Theopologetics Podcast is now available! In this episode I interview Gene Cook, Jr., host of The Narrow Mind radio show, discussing the doctrine of baptismal regeneration, which teaches that water baptism is a prerequisite for salvation.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Coming Soon: Interview with Gene Cook, Jr.

For whatever reason, God has blessed me with a great lineup of guests to interview! Sye TenBruggencate, then David Jeroslow, followed by Mike Felker, with Justin Brierly and another guest in the bullpen. Yesterday I received word from Gene Cook Jr., host of The Narrow Mind podcast, indicating that he is willing to appear on my show to be interviewed and asked about baptismal regeneration, which was the topic of episodes 2 and 4 of my podcast and which has been a hot topic of debate at my blog. I can't wait!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Coming Soon: Interview with Justin Brierley

Are you a fan of Premier Christian Radio's Unbelievable? radio program with Justin Brierley? (I know I am.) Ever wanted to know more about Justin himself and his story, which we don't get when he's neutrally moderating debate? (I know I have.) Stay tuned for an upcoming episode of the Theopologetics Podcast--if not the next one--in which I'll have the honor of interviewing Justin, asking him how his experiences as host of Unbelievable? have impacted his faith.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Episode 9: Can I Get A Witness

Episode 9 of the Theopologetics Podcast is now available! In this episode I interview Mike Felker of The Apologetic Front blog, discussing how to reach out to Jehovah’s Witnesses with the truth of biblical Christianity.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Episode 8: Walking Contradiction

Episode 8 of the Theopologetics Podcast is now available! In this episode I discuss several alleged contradictions in Scripture, pointed to by theological liberals as evidence against the inerrancy of Scripture, and by skeptics as evidence against the overall reliability of the Bible.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

It Was a Crippled USB Cable

Turns out the USB cable sent with the Yeti was defective. Using a different USB cable, the Yeti appears to work just fine. Yay!

Oh No! The Crippled Yeti

Imagine my excitement upon arriving home today to find my new Blue Microphones Yeti had been delivered, only to plug it in and discover it is damaged. It'll be another week or so while I send the mic back to Blue and have a replacement shipped, before I can use it. Perhaps I'll record another episode in the meantime using my XBox 360 Rock Band Microphone. Bummer...

Monday, September 13, 2010

Calling All Pray-ers: Discussion With an Atheist

Please pray for me and a friend's sister, an atheist who has engaged in a dialogue with me to discuss Christianity. I know that I cannot change her heart; only the Lord can do that. Please pray that if it's His will, He would speak (or in the case of our email exchange, type) through me, and touch her heart, opening her heart and mind to her need for the Savior, Jesus Christ.

Standing to Reason on Baptismal Regeneration

I'm becoming quite the regular on Greg Koukl's Stand to Reason radio show! In yesterday's show (Sunday, 9/12; download in the podcast), starting at about 00:29:50, Greg took my call. In it, I asked him for help discussing baptismal regeneration, the view I've discussed in episodes 2 and 4 of my podcast, and here at my blog, which holds that salvation happens at water baptism.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Shipping Soon: Monster of a Deal

In the next episode of the Theopologetics Podcast, my voice shouldn't be quite so excruciating to listen to. Episodes 1 through 7 were recorded using the cheap USB microphone that came with Rock Band for the XBox 360, but check out what's shipping to my house soon:

The Blue Microphones Yeti USB Microphone is a monster of a microphone--both in terms of quality and size--but it was also a monster of a deal at Amazon.com, where I got it and a high quality pop filter for about $60 off what they would have normally cost together. With 46 5-star reviews, and 7 4-star reviews (and only 5 poorer reviews), it seems this is a superior quality microphone, and I can't wait to try it out. And with the pop filter, you should no longer have to put up with the popping sound from my "p" words, which I've been able to minimize somewhat, but haven't managed to get rid of entirely.

If the poor sound quality or popping "p" words has made it difficult for you to listen along, please give me one more chance and wait for episode 8. I'm not 100% sure what the topic will be; either tongues, or faith alone, or alleged contradictions in Scripture. Regardless, the sound quality should be vastly improved, and I hope you'll find it easier to listen along.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Episode 7: Truth Be Told

Episode 7, "Truth Be Told," has been released! In this episode of the Theopologetics Podcast I discuss Sola Scriptura, the doctrine that the Bible contains all knowledge necessary for salvation and holiness, and that it is the ultimate authority and rule of faith for the believer. I look at what serves instead as the authority for Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons, as well as the view of some Christians, such as the Churches of Christ, who take Sola Scriptura to an unjustified extreme.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Excellent Debate with Atheists

Today I listened to an excellent debate between Christians and atheists. Shepherd's Fellowship, along with Sye TenBruggencate whom I interviewed in episode 3 of my podcast, debated the UNCG Atheists, Agnostics and Skeptics on the question, "Does the Christian God Exist."

Sye and Dustin do an excellent job of demonstrating that atheists foolishly deny God while simultaneously relying upon His existence to argue against their opponents. They deny the absoluteness of logic while simultaneously insisting that logic disproves Christianity. They deny the absoluteness of the uniformity of nature (that the future will be like the past) while simultaneously insisting that science disproves Christianity. I highly recommend you listen to this debate, and perhaps consider listening to episode 3 of my podcast in which I interview Sye on the topic of presuppositional apologetics.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Podcast Intro: Seeking Your Input

Those of you who've listened to each of my episodes will recall that before Glenn Peoples created theme music for my show, I used songs to open each episode whose titles relate in some way to the topic, and which served as the titles of my episodes. Since then, I open each episode with my new theme music, but because I still like the original practice, I continue it by transitioning from the intro theme into a song and name the episode after it.

Well, I have received a bit of constructive criticism from two people I love. One thinks the transition is too abrupt, and that I should introduce the episode after the theme music, and then begin the title song. The other thinks just the theme music is sufficient, and that I shouldn't have two songs open each show. I, personally, like the approach I take currently, but I respect my loved ones' opinions.

So, I'd like to find out what you, the rest of my listeners, think. Do you like my current practice of opening with my theme music and transitioning into the title song? Or, do you agree with either of those opinions described above? Or do you have any other suggestions? Your feedback would be greatly appreciated!

Promote Theopologetics!

If you host a podcast and appreciate the work of the Theopologetics Blog and Podcast, please consider playing my short promo in an episode of your show. Here is what I say in the promo, which I think encapsulates my goal:

"Theology and apologetics aren't just for pastors, philosophers and PhD's; they're for the average Joes in the pews like me, too. Join me as I discuss a wide variety of theological issues and show how a proper, biblical world view can help defend the historic Christian faith from its critics. Search for Theopologetics at the iTunes Store, the Zune Marketplace, or visit us online at http://theopologetics.podbean.com. Know what you believe, why you believe it...and not something else!"

I would be happy to reciprocate, including a promo for your podcast in an episode of mine--assuming, of course, that I am comfortable with its mission and content. Thanks so much for your consideration!

In the Beginning: Stand for Reason, The 7th Day

In "The Seventh Day...Today?" I explained that in a recent episode of Greg Koukl's "Stand to Reason" radio show, he appeared to use the opening verses of Hebrews 4 as an argument against the "Young-Earth Creationist" understanding of Genesis 1. He responded to a caller, saying based on that passage, "it's clear that the seventh day isn't a day" because we are in the 7th day of creation even today. That is in his view consistent with his understanding of the so-called days of creation being long periods of time, rather than 24-hour solar days.

Having called in to Greg's show once before, and having found him to be very humble and gracious, I decided to call in again to challenge his argument from Hebrews 4. Once again, Greg exhibited humility and openness, and explained that in that call he was only attempting to "defeat a defeater," that is to explain how Moses' application of the days of creation with regards to the Sabbath day of rest for the Israelites is not a legitimate challenge to his view. And by the end of the call, he agreed--assuming I am correct that numerous commentators throughout history do not share his view of the 7th day--that my understanding of Hebrews 4 is just as "sound theology" as his.

Anyway, I really enjoyed the conversation, and it seems to me that Greg did, too. Give the episode a listen if you're so inclined; my call begins at about 33:40 into the episode. Consider also subscribing to the "Stand to Reason" podcast, at which his live shows are archived the day after they air. I highly recommend his ministry, and think you'll enjoy it.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Episode 6: Daughter of Zion

Episode 6 of the Theopologetics Podcast is available! In this episode I am joined by a close friend of mine, asking and answering the question, “Who is a Jew?” This will be the first in a periodic series discussing Israelology, the study of Israel and her people.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Be Baptized for the Forgiveness of Sins

In my podcast, episodes 2 and 4, I've demonstrated from Scripture that water baptism is not what saves you, but rather that baptism in the Holy Spirit, which is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, saves you. And this happened to both the Apostles at Pentecost, and the Gentiles in Acts 10, before water baptism. This, in my opinion, disproves the case made by the Churches of Christ and Catholics--among others--that the forgiveness of sins happens at the time of water baptism.

I'll admit, however, that one verse has been a proverbial pea under my mattress, and I haven't until moments ago felt satisfied by my own response.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Episode 5: God Man

Episode 5 of the Theopologetics Podcast is available to download, in which I discuss the historic Christian doctrine which teaches that Jesus Christ is God, and I’ll address some of the challenges leveled by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who teach that Jesus is a created being and is not God.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Episode 4: Baptized in Flames

Episode 4 of the Theopologetics Podcast is available to download, available also in the iTunes Store and the Zune Marketplace! In this episode I discuss ”baptism in the Holy Spirit,” which Charismatics, Pentecostals and some others claim is a special empowering by the Holy Spirit manifested through spiritual gifts, and is separate and distinct from the saving indwelling of the Holy Spirit experienced by all genuine Christians.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Episode 3: You Spin Me Round

Episode 3 of the Theopologetics Podcast is available for your downloading pleasure! In this third episode of the Theopologetics Podcast I interview a guest concerning the topic of “presuppositional apologetics,” an approach to apologetics in which one does not attempt to provide evidence that proves the truth claims of Christianity, but rather that the presupposition that God exists is necessary to account for many of the things we instinctively know to be true.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Take Me To the River: Baptismal Regeneration

Episode 2 of the Theopologetics Podcast is available for your downloading pleasure! In this episode I tackle the notion of "baptismal regeneration," a view shared by the Roman Catholic Church and a few other Christian sects, and one similar to that of the Churches of Christ. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Bring Me to Life: Let the Downloading Begin!

The first ever episode of the Theopologetics Podcast is available for download now! The topic is the general resurrection of all the dead, which I use to introduce myself and what this podcast is all about. Related is a seeming ignorance of the doctrine in American Evangelicalism, which instead focuses on “heaven” as a place where our spirits go when we die, as well as a refutation of hyperpreterism’s claim that the resurrection is non-physical and happened in the first century.

Let me know what you think!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Get Your Zunes (and, ugh, iPods) Ready!

I'm pleased to announce that Theopologetics.com is coming to a podcast near you! I was recently blessed with the opportunity to guest host an episode of The Preterist Podcast, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Plus, I've received some positive feedback, including from the show's normal host, Dee Dee Warren, so I must not have done all that badly.

I have longed to do my own podcast for some time now, and what I've learned from guest hosting Dee Dee's show has left me without experience. So, it is with great excitement that I can say recording has begun, and you can expect the inaugural episode soon. I hope you'll listen in!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Chris Calls In to "Stand to Reason"

Some of you may be familiar with Greg Koukl's "Stand to Reason" apologetics ministry. They have a weekly radio show, archived in podcast form, and I've recently begun listening. In a couple of recent episodes, callers in have asked about preterism, and Greg (and the callers in) has distinguished between preterism and hyperpreterism using the abhorrent "partial" and "full" prefixes, against which Dee Dee Warren of the Preterist Podcast has rightfully railed (see this blog post, a shorter version of Dee Dee's article, "Perfuming the Hog").

Being new to Greg's show but having developed a respect for him and his aim toward teaching Christians how to think, rather than merely what to think, I decided I'd call in and humbly request that he change his terminology. I agree with Dee Dee that the terminology we employ is important, and likewise wrote about it in "A War Over Words". If you would like to listen to my discussion with Greg, check out his podcast and listen to July 18th's show, "Reflections on UK Vacation." I was the first caller in the second hour of the show, and you can fast forward to 00:59:43 if you want to skip to my call.

Now, keep in mind I was terribly nervous; I've struggled with stage fright all my life. As such, I likely spoke too quickly at times, missed certain points I shouldn't have and failed to clarify certain of Greg's statements. For example, I said at one point that preterists would agree to an extent with hyperpreterists concerning the "time texts," but should have clarified that we don't think those refer to the Second Coming. Also, when asked what hyperpreterists think the resurrection was, I said they believe that refers to the spiritual rebirth all Christians undergo, otherwise known as being "born again," but I am not certain that that's the case and should have prefaced my statement with, "I believe" or "I think." Other examples, I'm sure, could be identified (and I encourage you to let me know so I don't make similar mistakes in the future).

Nevertheless, I'm pleased overall with how things went (despite Greg's having mistakenly called it the book of "Revelations;" I can forgive him for that). In the end, Koukl seemed to agree with my reasoning, said I put my request well, and I gather that in the future he will use terminology which more clearly distinguishes the orthodox view from the heretical one. Let me know what you think!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Exegetical Eschatology: As the Lightning Comes

Previously in this series, we examined some of the assumptions we tend to read into the texts concerning the "end times." We learned that these assumptions are at best unwarranted, and at worst appear to contradict what Scripture teaches, and as such we must approach this biblical issue more carefully than we may have done in the past.

I've covered most of the sort of overarching assumptions I had intended to address, those which impact how we understand a variety of passages throughout Scripture. Today, because I witnessed it in action in a recent episode of a podcast I listen to, I want to look at something more particular, more specific. While perhaps not properly characterized as an assumption, this idea is nevertheless often presumed to be true without any effort to look elsewhere in Scripture to see if it is warranted.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

In the Beginning: The Seventh Day... Today?

In "Evening and Morning—Days Not Ages" we looked at the so-called "days of creation" in Genesis 1, and learned that the author's use of the phrase, "there was evening and there was morning," strongly suggests that he had ordinary, 24-hour days in mind. There are additional reasons to understand the passage in this way, but before we look at those, I want to address an argument I had never heard until a couple of days ago. In short, this argument is that the book of Hebrews claims that the seventh "day" of creation is ongoing, presumably even to this day. If true, then we would be forced to understand the "days" of creation as being long ages of time, despite the author's use of "evening" and "morning."

Friday, July 9, 2010

Exegetical Eschatology: The Unexpected "First Going"

In "The Coming(s) of the Son of Man" and "Parousia and the Definite Article" we identified some of the presuppositions we tend to read into the texts which speak of Christ's "coming." We discovered that there are several "comings" of Jesus, and that the Greek word for "coming" does not demand a single coming.

Related to assumptions made concerning Christ's "second coming," there is another assumption often made when we read mention of His "coming" prior to His death, namely that they expected a "first going" to begin with! After all, if prior to the crucifixion the disciples didn't really understand that He was going to "go" in the first place, then when they spoke of His "coming" it could not have been His final return at the end of time that they had in mind.

As we will see, not only does this assumption lack any warrant as was the case with the previous assumptions we've examined, but it goes contrary to the biblical evidence which strongly suggests they had no idea Jesus was going anywhere.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

In the Beginning: Evening and Morning—Days Not Ages

Christians' beliefs concerning the age of the universe typically fall somewhere under one of two broad categories. One view, popularly called "Old-Earth Creationism"—hereafter abbreviated OEC—holds that the universe is approximately as old as the majority of scientists in the modern era insist it is, billions of years in age. This view, by and large, is the result of interpreting the biblical data in such a way as to be consistent with modern scientific interpretations of natural evidence. The alternate view, popularly called "Young-Earth Creationism"—hereafter abbreviated YEC—is that the universe is approximately 6,000 years old. In contrast with the former view, proponents of YEC generally interpret the natural evidence in such a way as to be consistent with a seemingly straightforward interpretation of the biblical data.

It is important to keep a couple of things in mind when entering into a discussion or study of this issue. First, proponents of both broader categories listed above vary widely within those categories when it comes to their beliefs concerning the particulars. For example, some OECs believe in evolution whereas others do not, and YECs differ in how they explain the natural evidence, such as distant starlight suggesting the universe is very old. As such, one cannot assume much about what any given adherent to one of these views believes beyond the age of the universe. Second, despite rhetoric to the contrary coming from both sides, adherents to both views often take both Scripture and science very seriously. It is not as though one views the Bible as authoritative and the other views science as authoritative. Instead, both groups highly value both God's special revelation and His natural revelation.

With this introduction out of the way, I wish to begin this series in earnest by arguing against one particular view held by many OECs.


When we want to know how someone with a hectic schedule manages to squeeze in time for certain activities, we'll often ask, "Where do you find the time?" This is, in essence, one of the first questions I'm interested in answering when examining any particular OEC position: Where in the opening chapters of the Bible (or thereafter) does one see the alleged millions of years of cosmic history fitting in?

There are two main camps into which most OEC proponents I've met can be grouped. One of the two positions is that the seven "days" of creation in the first chapter of Genesis are not 24-hour periods of time, but rather long "ages" or "epochs" of determinate but indeterminable time, perhaps spanning millions of years each. The Genesis creation "week," then, actually comprised of millions upon millions of years, is where one often sees the bulk of the universe's history. I'll address the other view in the future, but I'd like to first spend several posts arguing against this position.


I have a few objections to this understanding of the so-called "days of creation." Today we'll look at the first of my objections. The Hebrew word rendered "day" in the first chapter of Genesis, where we read "the first day," "the second day" and so forth, is the word יוֹם (yom). It has various meanings throughout Scripture, including the idea of a long period of time. Proponents of OEC claim that since yom can carry this meaning, it is valid to understand it this way here in "the first day" and so on. However, it is the word's context that determines its meaning.

This article correctly points out that there are many different ways in which yom is used throughout Scripture, and that even in the text in question it is used in a few different ways. However, when one looks at the ways in which the word is used, one sees that the context determines its proper translation. For example, in Genesis 4:3 we’re told Cain’s offering of fruit came after the “process of time [yom],” something we know man hasn’t the ability to do in 24 hours. In Isaiah 30:8 we’re told God’s words were to be inscribed on a scroll to serve “as a witness forever,” thereby defining the “time [yom] to come.” Similarly, we’re given the context with the days of creation as well: evening and morning. The explicit inclusion of evening and morning I think clearly defines the period of time represented by the word yom in each case: 24 hours.


The article attempts to refute this argument, but does so very poorly. It claims that evening and morning require “a sunrise and sunset,” and since “the Sun was not created until Day Four…they cannot be actual evenings and mornings.” This is incredibly silly. Isn’t it in Alaska, among other places, where there are periods of days and days when the sun never sets, and other periods of days and days when the sun never rises? The author(s) of this article would seem to suggest that during these periods of times, these places in Alaska do not have evenings and mornings. This is ludicrous! Of course evenings and mornings exist whether the sun appears to set and rise or not. The article’s subsequent claim, then, falls utterly flat when it says, “The words for Evening and Morning can only represent the beginning and ending of the creative period, and not actual sunrise [sic] and sunsets.” Total nonsense.

It goes on to claim that “Scripture itself sets this pattern for us. Morning and evening are used figuratively in Psalm 30:5, Psalm 49:14,15, Psalm 90:6.” Oh really? First of all, 3 isolated verses in the poetic writings of the psalms constitutes a “pattern” set for us to interpret Genesis 1 in this way? That is ridiculous in and of itself, but I don’t think these verses make the case the author(s) intend to make anyway. They do use the picture of a 24-hour day, comprised of evening and morning, to symbolically represent a longer period of time. However, in each case evening and morning still mean a half of a 24-hour day, and the context tells us what evening and morning symbolize within that symbolic day. In the first passage, the weeping in an evening explicitly symbolizes God’s momentary anger, and the shout of joy in the morning God’s lasting favor. In the second passage, morning doesn't symbolize a period of time at all but an instant in time, so it's irrelevant. And in the third passage, the brief watch in the evening explicitly symbolizes the brevity of a thousand years to the Lord. The point is, whenever evening and morning symbolize larger periods of time, the fact that they are being used as symbols is made explicit in the text. In the days of Genesis, however, there is no such indication whatsoever.

Quite the contrary, there appears to be utterly no contextual purpose of including evening and morning apart from defining the length of the yom! Think about it—as we've seen, in other passages there are expressed purposes behind using evening and morning symbolically, explicit realities symbolized by those pictures. In the days of Genesis, on the other hand, there is nothing described which evening and morning are intended to symbolize. There is nothing about an evening or morning depicted as being analogous to the first and second halves of the creative period. Try reading those verses without "the first day" or "day one" or whatever at the end. "And there was evening and there was morning," and don't mention the day. It becomes totally disconnected from anything else in the text. Its presence becomes utterly jarring and meaningless. Only when "the first day" or whatever is included does evening and morning have any relevance in the text. Thus, its presence pretty clearly is intended to define a "day."


I recently happened upon one objection to my "evening and morning" argument which at first blush seemed to have some validity. This article makes the following claim:

"Evening and morning" is an idiomatic expression in Semitic languages. Like all idioms, its meaning is nonliteral but clearly understood by native speakers. The phrase "evening and morning" can, like yom, denote a long and indefinite period. The Old Testament itself unambiguously uses the "evening and morning" phrase in just such a way. In Daniel 8 we read the account of Daniel's ram and goat vision and the interpretation given by Gabriel. The vision covers many years; some commentators believe the time has not yet been completed. Daniel 8:26 says, "The vision of the evenings and the mornings that have been given to you is true, but seal up the vision for it concerns the distant future" (RSV). In Hebrew manuscripts, "the evenings and mornings," is not in the plural but in the singular, identical to the expression we find in Genesis 1. Translated literally, the verse would red, "And the vision of the evening and the morning that has been given you" Here we have a clear indication from scriptural usage that this phrase does not demand a 24-hour-day interpretation and can refer to an indefinite epoch.

It is true that in verse 26 the words ערב ('ereb, "evening") and בקר (boqer, "morning") are in the singular, rather than in the plural. However, what is not mentioned in this article is that the same words are used in their singular forms shortly before this verse but are explicitly numbered! Verse 14 reads, "He said to me, 'For 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the holy place will be properly restored.'" In this verse, 'ereb and 'boqer again appear in the singular, and yet are numbered in the thousands. Clearly, despite the author's use of the singular, the plural is intended, and as such every major translation renders it accordingly.

So when we come to verse 26, then, how are we to understand 'ereb and boqer when used in the singular? The author already used the singular forms of these words to refer to many evenings and mornings, so the only valid understanding of their use here is likewise. Besides, as we've seen, evenings and mornings are only used symbolically elsewhere in Scripture when explicitly said to symbolize something, which they are not here. Therefore, the NIV, NASB, Amplified, NLT, ESV, CEV and NKJV versions are all justified in rendering verse 26, "evenings and mornings." The author clearly has in mind the same 2,300 evenings and mornings referred to earlier. As the NLT renders it, "This vision about the 2,300 evenings and mornings is true."

Daniel's use of evenings and mornings is clearly intended to communicate a length of time in number of days. The KJV renders verse 14, "Unto two thousand and three hundred days" (and the NKJV renders it similarly). Therefore, far from lending support to the particular OEC position which views the evenings and mornings of creation as long periods of time, this passage in Daniel actually undermines it. Just as evening and morning are used in Genesis 1 to specify the length of time comprising each "day," so, too, are they used in this fashion by Daniel.

Friday, April 30, 2010

O LORD What is Man? Absent from the Body (It's Not What You Think)

In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul wrote that "while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord" and that we "prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord" (2 Corinthians 5:6-8). Most assume this is a reference to the "intermediate state" in which, upon dying, the disembodied spirits of saints go to be with God in heaven, awaiting the resurrection. John Gill, for example, explained it this way:

The interval between death, and the resurrection, is a state of absence from the body, during which time the soul is disembodied, and exists in a separate state; not in a state of inactivity and sleep, for that would not be desirable, but of happiness and glory, enjoying the presence of God, and praising of him, believing and waiting for the resurrection of the body, when both will be united together again; and after that there will be no more absence, neither from the body, nor from the Lord. (Gill, John. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:8". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible")

On the surface, the text does seem to suggest something along these lines. Upon digging more deeply, however, I have concluded that this is not the case, and that Paul is instead speaking of the resurrection itself. I'll explain why shortly, but first some background into what prompted me to write this.


A month or so ago, in "The View from the Fence," I blogged that I had recently shifted, from being firmly in the camp of the traditional Christian view that humans are comprised of both body and "spirit" or "soul," to precariously perched atop the fence between that view and an extreme minority view within the Church. That view, called "physicalism" (among a couple of other labels), holds that man has no soul separate from his body which resides with God in heaven after death. Instead, when the body dies, the man ceases to exist until the resurrection.

I remain on the fence, yet unconvinced of physicalism. However, I recently left my friend, Dee Dee Warren, host of The Preterist Podcast and owner of The Preterist Blog, with the impression that I had become convinced. She is currently reading (among other things) Facts and Theories as to a Future State by F.W. Grant, in which the author addresses physicalism and attempts to refute it. She posted an excerpt in which the author attempts to refute the physicalist's opinion that when Paul says we "prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord" in 2 Corinthians 5, he is not speaking of being disembodied in heaven, awaiting the resurrection, but is instead speaking of being absent from this body, present in our resurrection body.

Dee Dee had posted this excerpt at my request. I had spoken with her on the phone not long before, expressing my discomfort at the prospect of accepting a view held by a tiny minority of the Church for nearly 2,000 years, asking her for resources that might support the traditional view. Unfortunately, after reading the author's argument, I was left dissatisifed and unconvinced, and I jumped at the opportunity to explain why. I jumped so quickly, in fact, that it led Dee Dee to respond as follows:

You are coming across as already having your mind made up...I am concerned that you don’t have a healthly enough dose of supsicion with the zeal with which you attacked his statements. That took me a bit aback quite honestly. A very short period of time elapsed between my post and your response, and you were on it like a piranha on a corndog.

I love the analogy, incidentally. I explained in turn that no, I honestly have not made my mind up about physicalism, but that I am convinced that this particular passage in 2 Corinthians 5 is irrelevant. That it doesn't speak of the so-called "intermediate state" in which we reside in heaven, disembodied, awaiting the resurrection. The traditional view may, in fact, be correct, but I think its historically misinterpreted this passage.

Excuse the lengthy introduction and allow me to explain why.


Here is the passage in question:

6 Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord--7 for we walk by faith, not by sight--8 we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:6-8, emphasis mine)

Now, on the surface, these verses do seem to suggest that we are courageous in the face of death, knowing that at death our spirits reside with the Lord in heaven, "absent from the body." A couple of other interesting statements in this chapter seem to lend support to this interpretation. In verse 3 Paul says that upon being given our resurrection bodies, we "will not be found naked." In verse 4 he says we "do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life." Why, the traditionalist might ask, does Paul use imagery like this if we can't, in fact, be "naked" and "unclothed?"

I'll come back to that question later. First, however, we need to take a closer, more careful look at this passage, extending further back into the previous chapter.


About halfway into chapter 4, Paul begins to speak of preaching the gospel with courage in the face of death. He writes,

8 we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death works in us, but life in you. 13 But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, "I BELIEVED, THEREFORE I SPOKE," we also believe, therefore we also speak (2 Corinthians 4:8-13, emphasis mine)

Paul and the Apostles faced immense persecution and even impending death for the gospel they preached. In what does Paul say they were "always carrying about...the dying of Jesus?" ἐν τῷ σώματι, or "in the body." And in case "in the body" isn't clear enough, he goes on to define it as "in our mortal flesh." This will become important when we get to the passage in question.


But why, one might ask, does Paul want to live out the death of Jesus in his body? What faith does Paul have that leads him to face death at every turn in order to advance the gospel? He tells us in verse 14:

14 knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you (2 Corinthians 4:14, emphasis mine)

Paul exhibited courage in the face of death because he knew that just as Jesus rose from the grave, so too would he rise from the dead. What was Paul's faith and hope in the face of affliction? The resurrection body. This is the context of Paul's curious words later in his letter.


At this point, Paul speaks of something very interesting, saying,

15 For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God. 16 Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. (2 Corinthians 4:15-16, emphasis mine)

What is our "inner man?" If in the next chapter Paul likens the body unto a house (which he does), and if the decaying body is here called our "outer man," doesn't it stand to reason that our "inner man" is our soul, inhabiting the body? No, I don't think that's a warranted assumption.
The Greek word "inner" here is ἔσωθεν (esothen) and is never connected with a soul inhabiting the body. Rather, it is used metaphorically to speak of a man's true, inward motives, desires, nature or condition. Consider how this word is used elsewhere:
Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly [ἔσωθεν] are ravenous wolves. (Matthew 7:15)
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside [ἔσωθεν] they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. (Matthew 23:25; see also Luke 11:39-40)
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside [ἔσωθεν] they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. (Matthew 23:27)
So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly [ἔσωθεν] you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. (Matthew 23:28)
21 For from within [ἔσωθεν], out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22 deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. 23 All these evil things proceed from within [ἔσωθεν] and defile the man. (Mark 7:21-23)

While the "inner man" might be a reference to one's soul, there's no justification for reading that into the text. These uses of the word ἔσωθεν make it clear that all that's intended by the word is a reference to one's inward desires and thoughts. False prophets aren't inhabited by the spirits of hungry wolves. Rather, their thoughts and motives inwardly are contrary to their outer appearances. The hypocritical Pharisees appeared to be pure on the outside, but were in fact unclean in their heart, in their inner desires.

Consider a similar Greek phrase rendered "inner man" which uses the word ἔσω (eso) and which appears in a couple of other places:

21 I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. 22 For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner [ἔσω] man, 23 but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. (Romans 7:21-23, emphasis mine)

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father...16 that He would grant you...to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner [ἔσω] man, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:14-19)

We see again no suggested reference to a man's soul. There is no warrant for reading that into the text here. The "inner man" is where a born again follower of Christ's love for God and for others originates, yes. But there is no hint of an ethereal soul here. Instead, he equates the "inner man" with the "heart" to the Ephesians, and with the "mind" to the Romans. He speaks of the "inner man" being empowered in order that Christ would dwell in our hearts through faith. He also describes the result of being empowered by the Holy Spirit in the "inner man" as being able to "comprehend" and "know" the love of Christ.

This is important, because while some would attribute desire and godliness (or lack thereof) to one's spirit/soul, these passages seem to connect the "inner man" more with comprehension and understanding. Notice that to the Romans Paul likens his "inner man" to his "mind." He uses the same Greek word as is found later in his letter where he urges the Romans to "be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2). And the word "renewing" here is the same Greek word used in 2 Corinthians 4:16 (the passage we're examining) where Paul writes that "our inner man is being renewed day by day."

The link, then, does not appear to be between the "inner man" and one's soul. Instead, the link appears to be between the "inner man" and one's mind. The Greek word for mind is νοῦς (nous), and it refers to one's intellectual faculty for perceiving, for understanding, for judging, for determining, for reasoning, for considering. After His resurrection, He appeared to the disciples and "opened their minds [νοῦς] to understand the Scriptures" (Luke 24:45). The word is believed to be the root of the Greek word γινώσκω (ginosko) which means "to learn" or "to come to know." One's "mind" doesn't just feel, it understands, it judges, it discerns.

Coming back to these verses in 2 Corinthians 4, here's the point. Paul's contrast does not appear to be between one's body and one's spirit, but between one's body and one's knowledge, one's understanding, one's faith. The body is decaying away, but we are being "transformed by the renewing of our mind," growing in our knowledge of and trust in Christ. While some attribute these faculties to the soul, there's no justification for doing so.


Paul goes on, saying,

17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 18 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 1 For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. (2 Corinthians 4:17-5:1)

Now, I've included the first verse of chapter 5 with the end of chapter 4. After all, in the original there were no chapters, just one continuous letter. Paul says that in the midst of affliction, our mind is being renewed day after day as we focus our attention on the eternal and not the temporary. He goes on to give an example of this contrast which gives us hope in the midst of suffering: the resurrection.

Remember that back in verse 14 of chapter 4, Paul says that knowledge of his future resurrection encourages him to suffer for Jesus. After explaining that our minds are being renewed in the midst of affliction by looking toward the eternal rather than the temporary, chapter 5 begins with Paul returning to the resurrection. That which is visible and temporary is our "earthly tent," our "mortal flesh" as he called it back in verse 14 of chapter 4. In contrast, that which is yet unseen but eternal, is our future "house not made with hands," our resurrection bodies.

James Burton Coffman wrote, "Paul made tents with his hands; but the glorious resurrection body is far above and beyond anything that human hands might contrive" (Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament"). A. R. Fausset wrote, "This "house" can only be the resurrection body, in contrast to the "earthly house of the tabernacle," our present body" (Jamieson, Robert; A.R. Fausset; and David Brown. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5."). Chuck Smith wrote, "The mansion that the Lord is talking about is the new body He's got for me. I'm living in this tent, but one day I'm going to move into a mansion" (Smith, Chuck. "2 Corinthians 5." The Word for Today.).

It should be noted, too, that the Greek word for "house" in this verse is οἰκία (oikia), and doesn't just mean a building of some sort. It refers to an inhabited dwelling, one's home. This will prove important shortly. In the meantime, the point is that beginning in the middle of chapter 4 and extending now into chapter 5, the context is the contrast between two homes: our current, mortal body and our future resurrection body.


Paul continues with this contrast, saying,

2 For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, 3 inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. 4 For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. (2 Corinthians 5:2-4)

The contrast which Paul began back in verse 14 of chapter 4 is the same contrast he's giving here; the context hasn't changed from the contrast between the mortal body and the resurrection body. We groan in our mortal bodies longing for what? Our resurrection bodies. But Paul adds an analogy into the mix, likening the body not just to a house but to clothes, saying that having put it on we "will not be found naked."
Now, some take the language in these verses as supporting the notion that the human spirit becomes disembodied at death, "naked" as it were. However, it is worth noting that Paul never says we will be "naked." Quite the contrary; he says we won't be "naked." Furthermore, he explicitly says that our hope is not to be "unclothed," but rather it is to be "clothed" with our immortal, resurrection bodies.
Why even use this language, then, if being "naked" and "unclothed" were not something to be expected prior to the resurrection? Well, first we should ask, does "naked" and "unclothed" refer to being disembodied in the first place? It's interesting that the analogy of clothing is only applied to the resurrection body, and not our current body. In other words, there is no indication from the text that we are not already "naked." In fact, the word "naked" here is γυμνός (gymnos) and Paul uses it in his first letter to this congregation in likening the present body to a seed. He had previously written to them,
35 But someone will say, "How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?" 36 You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies; 37 and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare [γυμνός] grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own. (1 Corinthians 15:35-38)

Notice Paul likens the present, mortal body which is buried unto a "naked" grain. We know it's the body, not the spirit, which he likens unto a "naked" seed because he then says it is "sown a perishable body" and "sown a natural body" (1 Corinthians 15:42-44). He says that God gives this "naked" grain a body unique to it. This would seem to suggest that in our present bodies we are "naked" now, insofar as we are not yet clothed by our glorified, resurrection bodies. This may be what Paul has in mind here in his second letter when he says that upon donning our future bodies, we will no longer be "naked" and "unclothed."

On the other hand, if the language of being "naked" and "unclothed" does mean to be disembodied, I believe its presence here is precisely because it is not to be expected. Paul's readers were Greeks and struggled with belief in the resurrection, instead believing in the "immortality of the soul ... that after death the soul escaped from the body to be absorbed into the divine or continue a shadowy existence in the underworld" (Donald Guthrie, The New Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1970), p. 1071, quoted by Coffman). Paul's readers came from a background which taught that upon death we would be "naked" and "unclothed," and it seems to me Paul is telling them, "No! We won't be naked! We won't be unclothed!"

Regardless, the point is there is no indication here that Paul is saying our disembodied spirits will be with God in heaven after the death of the body. He never says that will happen, and continuing with his ongoing contrast between the mortal body and the resurrection body, he says our hope is to be clothed upon by our immortal, glorified bodies.


Having just gone to great lengths--beginning even earlier than this chapter, as we've seen--to explain that our hope is in the resurrection, Paul tells us this:

5 Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge. 6 Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord-- 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight-- (2 Corinthians 5:5-7, emphasis mine)

Paul says God prepared us for a purpose and gave us the Spirit as a pledge. What is the purpose for which we have been prepared? The resurrection, as Paul has made clear! And we have the Spirit as a pledge, or promise, that this will happen! Paul tells us that this promise of the resurrection gives us courage while "at home in the body" as we walk by faith and not by sight, harkening back to the end of the previous chapter where we're told our minds are renewed as we focus on the unseen, eternal things. The context is still the resurrection, hope in which gives courage in the midst of suffering.

Now, two things are worth pointing out in the original Greek here. First, earlier when discussing verses 8 through 13 in chapter 4, I pointed out that Paul says we are carrying out the death of Jesus "in the body," ἐν τῷ σώματι. He uses the phrase twice, and then calls it specifically "our mortal flesh." Here, Paul uses the same phrase, ἐν τῷ σώματι. Those who insist the upcoming verse is proof of the intermediate state claim that reading "in the body" as "in this body," one's current body specifically, is unjustified. Yet, it is Paul who tells us that's precisely what he has in mind when he uses the phrase ἐν τῷ σώματι, which he earlied called "our mortal flesh."

At this point, one might object saying that just as Paul had said that we carry about the death of Jesus ἐν τῷ σώματι, he also says the life of Jesus will be manifested ἐν τῷ σώματι. If one understands the manifesting of the life of Jesus as referring to the resurrection, then ἐν τῷ σώματι would appear to be a reference to just one body, mortal prior to the resurrection, made immortal thereafter. This is certainly true, but at the same time he speaks of two bodies in this chapter: a body which will be torn down--our mortal body--and another body from God which we will put on in the resurrection.

The testimony of Scripture is that yes, the body that is buried is raised unto glorification. Yet, it is transformed in such a way that it can be legitimately called a different body. In his first letter to the Corinthians Paul says that in the resurrection God "gives [us] a body" and that "if there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body" (1 Corinthians 15:35-44). In the same way, Paul says here that there are two "houses;" the current mortal body and the future immortal body. So when the life of Jesus is manifested ἐν τῷ σώματι ("in the body"), it is transformed from the "earthly tent" to the "building from God."

Second, recall that Paul earlier contrasts the mortal body and the resurrection body by likening them to "dwellings" or "homes" using the Greek word οἰκία. Here, "at home" is the Greek verb ἐνδημέω (endemeo) which means to "dwell in one's own country" or "stay at home." And "absent" is the verb ἐκδημέω (ekdemeo) which means "to be or live abroad;" that is, away from home. If Paul's contrast earlier is between two "homes," it follows that his contrast here between being "at home" and "away from home" is a contrast between the same two states: the mortal body and the resurrection body. This body and that body. While "at home" in this body we are "away from home" in the future body with the Lord.


This brings us to the verse in question:

8 we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:8)

At the beginning I said that on the surface this verse does seem to suggest that upon death we are disembodied in heaven with the Lord. But now that we've walked through the passage in its context, it no longer seems to support that notion. Recall that
  1. In the previous chapter Paul begins to explain that we carry about the death of Jesus in our bodies, ἐν τῷ σώματι, which he calls "our mortal flesh."
  2. He says we do so because we know that just as Jesus rose from the dead, so too will we.
  3. In transitioning into this chapter, he says that through affliction our minds are renewed as we look not toward the visible, temporary things but the unseen, eternal things, knowing that though our current bodies will die, our resurrection bodies await us.
  4. To begin this chapter he contrasts our current bodies and resurrection bodies by likening them unto "homes." He then likens only the resurrection body unto clothing, specifically saying we will not be "naked" or "unclothed" but will be "clothed upon" by resurrection bodies.
  5. He says the very purpose for which we are prepared is the resurrection, and that the Spirit is our guarantee that we will rise and put on our resurrection bodies.
  6. He says this promise gives us courage while "at home" ἐν τῷ σώματι, "in the body" which earlier he called "our mortal flesh," using verbs harkening back to the analogy of "homes" with which he began the chapter.
So when we get to verse 8, with all the above in mind, what indication is there that "absent from the body" means absent any body, disembodied in heaven? Paul has gone on and on about the hope of the resurrection that gives us courage in the face of suffering, and specifically says we won't be found "naked," that we don't want to be "unclothed"--which probably doesn't mean disembodied anyway. What contextual or grammatical justification is there, then, for reading this verse as suddenly and very briefly referring to something else? There is none.

As I've said, I am still on the fence when it comes to physicalism. Scripture may, in fact, teach that humans are comprised both of a physical body and a non-physical spirit or soul which is disembodied at death and goes to dwell with God in heaven awaiting the resurrection. This passage does not rule that out, but neither does it teach that. The "intermediate state" is utterly foreign to this text, wherein Paul is merely reaffirming the hope he expressed in the previous chapter, that though the "home" that is our present body will one day be "torn down," when we are "away from home" in the present body we will be "at home" in our "building from God," the immortal, glorified, resurrection body.


If after reading through the text with me and carefully considering my exegesis you disagree, and still insist "absent from the body" here is a reference to disembodiment in the intermediate state, please feel free to explain why in a comment or email me. I am aware of maybe a couple of objections to my exegesis, and will post them in a follow-up to this in a few days. However, it is possible that I've missed something, and I'm open to the possibility I'm wrong.